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Tully, by the fafces of office, or the premonitions of a dream, but by very different means. Surely many cardinals' caps will be due to me on this account; and I fear left the Roman Pontiff, by the transfer of a title, which lately belonged to our kings, fhould falute me with the appellation of Defender of the Faith. You fee under what a cloud of difgrace Salmafius laboured to deprefs me. But ought he to have relinquifhed a poft of honourable exertion to mingle in foreign controverfies, or to have deferted the fervice of the church for political and external difcuffions, in which he had no knowledge and no concern? Ought he to have made a truce with the Pope? and, what was moft bafe of all, after the utmost bitterness of hoftility, to have fought a reconciliation with the Bishops? Let us now come to the charges which were brought against myself. Is there any thing reprehenfible in my manners or my conduct? Surely nothing. What no one, not totally divested of all generous fenfibility would have done, he reproaches me with want of beauty and lofs of fight.
A monster huge and hideous, void of fight.
I certainly never fuppofed that I fhould have been obliged to enter into a competition for beauty with the Cyclops; but he immediately corrects himself, and says
though not indeed huge, for there cannot be a more fpare, fhrivelled, and bloodlefs form." It is of no moment to fay any thing of perfonal appearance, yet left (as the Spanish vulgar, implicitly confiding in the relations of their priefts, believe of heretics) any one, from the reprefentations of my enemies, fhould be led to imagine that I have either the head of a dog, or the horn of a rhinoceros; I will fay fomething on the fubject, that I may have an opportunity of paying my grateful acknowledgments to the Deity, and of refuting the most shamelefs lies. I do not believe that I was ever once noted for deformity, by any one who ever faw me; but the praise of beauty I am not anxious to obtain. My ftature certainly is not tall; but it rather approaches the middle than the diminutive. Yet what if it were diminutive,
when so many men, illuftrious both in peace and war, have been the fame? And how can that be called dimi nutive, which is great enough for every virtuous achievement? Nor, though very thin, was I ever deficient in courage or in strength; and I was won't conftantly to exercise myself in the use of the broad sword, as long as it comported with my habits and my years. Armed with this weapon, as I ufually was, I fhould have thought myself quite a match for any one, though much stronger than myself; and I felt perfectly fecure against the affault of any open enemy. At this moment I have the fame courage, the fame ftrength, though not the fame eyes; yet fo little do they betray any external appearance of injury, that they are as unclouded and bright as the eyes of those who moft diftinctly fee. In this inftance alone I am a diffembler against my will. My face, which is faid to indicate a total privation of blood, is of a complexion entirely oppofite to the pale and the cadaverous; fo that, though I am more than forty years old, there is fcarcely any one to whom I do not appear ten years younger than I am; and the finoothness of my fkin is not, in the least affected by the wrinkles of age. If there be one particle of falfehood in this relation, I fhould defervedly incur the ridicule of many thousands of my countrymen, and even many foreigners to whom I am perfonally known. But if he, in a matter fo foreign to his purpose, fhall be found to have afferted fo many fhameless and gratuitous falfehoods, you may the more readily estimate the quantity of his veracity on other topics. Thus much neceffity compelled me to affert concerning my perfonal appearance. Refpecting yours, though I have been informed that it is most infignificant and contemptible, a perfect mirror of the worthlefsnefs of your character and the malevolence of your heart, I fay nothing; and no one will be anxious that any thing fhould be faid. I wish that I could with equal facility refute what this barbarous opponent has faid of my blindnefs; but I cannot do it; and I muft fubmit to the affliction. It is not fo wretched to be blind, as it is not to be capable of enduring blindness. But why fhould I not endure a misfortune, which it behoves every one to be prepared
prepared to endure if it fhould happen; which may, in the common courfe of things, happen to any man; and which has been known to happen to the moft diftinguifhed and virtuous perfons in history. Shall I mention those wife and ancient bards, whofe misfortunes the Gods are faid to have compensated by superior endowments, and whom men fo much revered, that they chose rather to impute their want of fight to the injuftice of heaven than to their own want of innocence or virtue? What is reported of the Augur Tirefias is well known; of whom Apollonius fung thus in his Argonauts;
To men he dar❜d the will divine disclose,
But God himself is truth; in propagating which, as men display a greater integrity and zeal, they approach nearer to the fimilitude of God, and poffefs a greater portion of his love. We cannot fuppofe the Deity envious of truth, or unwilling that it fhould be freely communicated to mankind. The lofs of fight, therefore, which this infpired fage, who was fo eager in promoting knowledge among men, fuftained, cannot be confidered as a judicial punishment. Or fhail I mention thofe worthies who were as diftinguished for wifdom in the cabinet, as for valour in the field? And firft, Timoleon of Corinth, who delivered his city and all Sicily from the yoke of flavery; than whom there never lived, in any age, a more virtuous man, or a more incorrupt ftatefman: Next Appius Claudius whofe difcreet counfels in the fenate, though they could not reftore fight to his own eyes, faved Italy from the formidable inroads of Pyrrhus: then Cæcilius Metellus the high priest, who loft his fight, while he faved, not only the city, but the palladium, the protection of the city, and the most facred relics, from the deftruction of the flames. On other occafions Providence has indeed given confpicuous proofs of its regard for fuch fingular exertions of patriotism and virtue; what, therefore, happened to fo great and fo good a man, I can hardly place
place in the catalogue of misfortunes. Why fhould I mention others of later times, as Dandolo of Venice, the incomparable Doge; or Boemar Zisca, the bravest of generals, and the champion of the crofs; or Jerome Zanchius, and fome other theologians of the highest reputation? For it is evident that the Patriarch Isaac, than whom no man ever enjoyed more of the divine regard, lived blind for many years; and perhaps alfo his fon Jacob, who was equally an object of the divine benevolence. And in fhort, did not our Saviour himself clearly declare that that poor man whom he reftored to fight, had not been born blind, either on account of his own fins or thofe of his progenitors? And with respect to myself, though I have accurately examined my conduct, and scrutinized my foul, I call thee, O God, the fearcher of hearts to witness, that I am not confcious, either in the more early, or in the later periods of my life, of having committed any enormity, which might defervedly have marked me out as a fit object for fuch a calamitous vifitation. But fince my enemies boast that, this affliction is only a retribution for the tranfgreffions of my pen; IV again invoke the Almighty to witnefs, that I never, at any time wrote any thing which I did not think agreeable to truth, to juftice, and to piety. This was my perfuafion then, and I feel the fame perfuafion now. Nor was I ever prompted to fuch exertions by the influence of ambition, by the luft of lucre or of praife; it was only by the conviction of duty and the feeling of patriotifm, a difinterefted paffion for the extenfion of civil and religious liberty. Thus, therefore, when I was pub. lickly folicited to write a reply to the defence of the royal caufe, when I had to contend with the preffure of fickness, and with the apprehenfion of foon lofing the fight of my remaining eye, and when my medical attendants clearly announced, that if I did engage in the work, it would be irreparably loft, their premonitions caufed no hefitation and infpired no difmay. I would not have liftened to the voice even of Efculapius himself from the fhrine of Epidauris, in preference to the fuggeftions of the heavenly monitor within my breast; my refolution was unfhaken, though the alternative was either the lofs of
my fight, or the defertion of my duty; and I called to mind thofe two deftinies, which the oracle of Delphi announced to the fon of Thetis.
Two fates may lead me to the realms of night;
I confidered that many had purchased a lefs good by a greater evil, the meed of glory by the lofs of life; but that I might procure great good by little fuffering; that though I am blind, I might still discharge the most honourable duties, the performance of which, as it is fomething more durable than glory, ought to be an object of fuperior admiration and efteem; I refolved, therefore, to make the fhort interval of fight, which was left me to enjoy, as beneficial as poffible to the public intereft. Thus it is clear, by what motives I was governed in the measures which I took, and the loffes which I fuftained. Let then the calumniators of the divine goodness ceafe to revile, or to make me the object of their fuperftitious imaginations. Let them confider, that my fituation, fuch as it is, is neither an object of my fhame or my regret; that my refolutions are too firm to be fhaken, that I am not depreffed by any fenfe of the divine difpleasure; that, on the other hand, in the moft momentous periods, I have had full experience of the divine favour and protection; and that, in the folace and the strength, which have been infused into me from above, I have been enabled to do the will of God; that I may oftener think on what he has bestowed, than on what he has withheld; that in short, I am unwilling to exchange my consciousness of rectitude with that of any other perfon; and that I feel the recollection a treasured ftore of tranquillity and delight. But, if the choice were neceffary, I would Sir, prefer my blindnefs to yours; yours is a cloud fpread over the mind, which darkens both the light of reafon and of confcience; mine keeps from my view only the coloured furfaces of things,